NHL Odds: Blackhawks at Detroit Red Wings

By: Barry Daniels | Thursday, April 7, 2011

The Chicago Blackhawks and Detroit Red Wings are going to be plenty tired of each other by the end of the weekend. That’s because these two Original Six franchises will conclude the regular campaign with a home-and-home series starting with a Friday contest at Detroit’s Joe Louis Arena.

The Verizon network will televise the matchup starting at 4:35 p.m. (PT).

The weekend contests are crucial to the Blackhawks, as the defending champs are tied with Anaheim for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference.

Chicago received a lucky bounce Wednesday during its 4-3 overtime victory against St. Louis as a 180 home favorite. The fortunate break occurred at the 7:52 mark of the second period when Marion Hossa appeared to kick the puck in the net with the Hawks trailing 2-0.

However, it was ruled a good goal after referees went to a video review which took six minutes. That seemed to give the Hawks new life.

Though the combined seven goals catapulted ‘over’ the NHL odds, the ‘under’ is 8-2 in Chicago’s last 10 contests and 43-37 overall.

Jonathan Toews scored the winning goal with 1:41 left in overtime to clinch Chicago’s biggest victory of the season. The club also received a big boost by the appearance of Patrick Sharp, who returned for the first time in two weeks despite a gimpy left knee.

Corey Crawford stooped 35-of-39 shots to register the win. His record improved to 32-17-3-3 with a 2.27 GAA and a .918 save percentage. Crawford has also notched four shutouts.

Chicago is 19-12-4-5 on enemy ice thanks to outscoring the opposition by an average of 3.0 to 2.75.

Detroit has clinched a playoff berth, but is still fighting with San Jose for the No. 2 seed in the Western Conference.

The Wings received a double-dose of bad news Wednesday when Carolina blanked them in a pick’em game, 3-0. Henrik Zetterberg, who leads Detroit with 24 goals and 56 assists, suffered an ankle injury.

The Don Best Sports injury report lists Zetterberg as “doubtful.” Detroit may also be without defenseman Niklas Kronwall, who has missed the past two games with a shoulder injury. He is listed as “questionable.”

The fact that Detroit is home Friday night isn’t as big of an advantage as one might think. The Red Wings are just 21-13-4-2 at Joe Louis Arena, including an anemic 10-14-2 after the all-star break.

Jimmy Howard stopped 29-of-32 Carolina shots in a losing effort. The 27-year-old netminder saw his record slip to 36-16-3-2 with a bloated 2.76 GAA and .909 save percentage. Howard has just two shutouts.

Detroit continues to lead the league offensively by averaging 3.1 goals per game. However, the squad is leaking oil defensively by allowing an average of 2.9 GPG (21st).

These two Central Division foes have met four times this season, with Chicago capturing three. That includes 3-2 and 4-1 victories in the two outings played at Joe Louis Arena. The ‘under’ has cashed in all four matchups.

Chicago has a distinct advantage on special teams during the season series, going 6-for-14 on the power play compared to Detroit’s 2-for-10. Chicago has also outshot Detroit, 133-128.

These squads will conclude the regular season Sunday afternoon with the back end of this home-and-home series in Chicago.

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